Vienna’s Naschmarkt

The Vienna Naschmarkt is a combination food market and flea market that extends several blocks along the Danube Canal about a 5 minute stroll from the Karlsplatz U-Bahn stop in the 6th District of Vienna, Austria.

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The naschmarkt is a foodie paradise with food stands, restaurants, beer and wine stores, flowers and kitchen wares.

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During a Saturday morning trek through the naschmarkt Ample Bites enjoyed the sight and smells of at least a half dozen butcher shops, an equal amount of fish mongers, and countless vegetable, fruit and cheese stands.

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The market also featured myriad prepackaged spices, bulk candies, and fresh baked breads. A stand with flavored olive oils caught my eye as did a vendor of freshly made sauerkraut displayed in a large wooden barrel.

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A Saturday visit to the market requires some patience because there are huge crowds. People come to the market to shop and socialize. The narrow walkways between stands creates an air of activity and a pedestrian tension that is both exciting and, at times, frustrating. The occasional wheelchair-bound shopper or parents pushing the extra-wide baby buggy can create a “traffic jam” of epic proportions.

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If you visit the market to prepare for a picnic in one of Vienna’s many beautiful parks, you will find all kinds of prepared foods suitable for the picnic basket including sandwiches, granola by the slice, and peppers stuffed with cheese to name just a few.

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Ample Bites regrets not having cooking facilities available during our visit because the fresh food available at the naschmarkt would have yielded some fine cooking opportunities.

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Dining in Prague

Dining in Prague, Czech Republic is a treat. The food and drinks are plentiful and inexpensive. A nice dinner for three with a couple of drinks each costs $30 to $50, including tip. There are restaurants seemingly on every corner with a wide variety of culinary options ranging from traditional Czech to English pub food and some pretty good looking Italian fare.

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Our hotel, At the Green Grape, started us off each day with a hearty continental breakfast.

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Ample Bites particular enjoyed Beseda and their authentic, traditional Czech food in the form of a perfectly roasted pig knuckle, or shank, served with a brown gravy and sauerkraut. The pork was crispy on the outside but tender and juicy and full of flavor.

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Another favorite at our table at Beseda was pork medallions with roasted mushrooms, cabbage pancakes and onion crisps.

We also found a good fish restaurant in Old Town called At the Black Star which was admittedly a bit overpriced for Prague but the sea bass and salmon dishes in our party were cooked to perfection.

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Among the culinary charms of Prague is a sweet pastry cylinder called a turdlo. These treats are baked on cylindrical tubes that spin over a gas flame until the outside of the pastry is a caramelized, hard shell and the inside is doughy sweet breading.

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When accompanied by an espresso or latte the turdlo is a perfect mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.

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The beverage of choice of the Czech people is beer. They consume more beer per capita than anyone in the world. There is a good reason for this. Their beers such as Pilsner Urquel is outstanding and a .50 liter chilled mug will run you a full $1.50 to $2.00. Ample Bites emptied several mugs during a brief visit to the enchanting city of Prague.

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Viennese Cuisine

During a 10-day trip to Vienna, Austria and Prague, in the Czech Republic, Ample Bites had the opportunity to sample authentic cuisine and local versions of Italian favorites. Today’s post will focus on the food and sights of Vienna.

Viennese cuisine includes large amounts of pork, veal and chicken in various preparations. These proteins are usually accompanied with cabbage, potatoes, and hearty rye breads. In Vienna, the authentic dishes we sampled were a couple different types of pork schnitzel and wurst, a long, skinny sausage resembling a frankfurter or American hot dog.

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The pork schnitzel is pounded flat and either breaded and fried or sauteed in oil. Schnitzel can be found almost anywhere in Vienna. Ample Bites saw it in local restaurants; at the local grocery store deli counter; in McDonald’s and Starbucks; at the corner Wurstel Express; and in the local fast food chain, aptly named the Schnitzelhaus. Ample Bites did not sample schnitzel from all of these sources by I suspect there is a wide range of quality.

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The Ample Bites had schnitzel at Schnitzelwirt, a restaurant touted by Frommer’s for its quality schnitzel and accompaniments. Schnitzelwirt did not disappoint. The breaded schnitzel was unexpectedly light and tender and an unbreaded, sauteed schnitzel finished with a brown gravy with garlic and parsley was very good. Schnitzelwirt served up more food than our party could possibly eat, which we washed down with cold beer and some of the local rotwein, or red wine.

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During an afternoon visit to the Vienna Woods and neighboring wine gardens in and around Grinzing we enjoyed a few glasses of Blaufrankish, a red wine, and a sampling plate of local goat’s milk cheeses. The wine was not as dry as the cabernets and sirahs Ample Bites likes the most but it was very good and we ordered this red wine throughout our visit to Vienna.

When Ample Bites was not consuming local Viennese food our cuisine of choice happened to be Italian. We thoroughly enjoyed homemade pasta and gnocchi dishes with perfectly cooked fish at Firenze, located just off the heavily-traveled Stephansplatz.

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Another favorite was Vapiano, best described as a made-to-order pizza and pasta bar, located near the famous Prater Park.

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At Vapiano, we were each issued a blank credit card which we took to a counter where pizzas and calzones are made. Diners can order from a menu of choices or select individual ingredients for a custom pizza.

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This option is also available at a pasta counter. Other counters offered salads and dessert items. And, finally beverages, including a nice wine selection, were available. To order, you simply selected your food and drink items. The prices are scanned to the cards which are paid off at the end of the meal.

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At each table was extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil and rosemary. The pizzas and calzone where perfectly baked in pizza ovens and were ready for pick-up after 10 – 12 minutes, which told Ample Bites that the oven was cranking out 700 – 1000F.

During a sightseeing lunch break for some thin crust pizza and a beer, Ample Bites sampled the Viennese version of sausage pizza. The sausage used was the wurst or frankfurter, which was a bit surprising at the time but in retrospect … not so much.

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Another abundant food choice in Vienna is broadly categorized as Asian. This category is extremely broad and included everything from Indian to sushi. Ample Bites chose not to partake in sushi, which is a favorite our mine back in the States. A sampler plate of Indian food at Machu Machu included falafel and schwarma served with the usual pita bread and not so usual Viennese-style cabbage.

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Ample Bites craved a salad entree on several occasions and found a few that truly “hit the spot”.

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If you visit Vienna and have cooking facilities you can take advantage of a fantastic market that offers ingredients, seasoning, oils and herbs of all types. You can find out more about the Naschtmart in an upcoming Ample Bites post.

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